Thursday, December 6, 2007

What I Read Last Week Part 2

Supergirl and The Legion of Superheroes #36 -- Finally, my boy Lightning Lad goes to town on some poor schmuck! Well... kinda. Ah well, plenty of time for that now. Calero and Bedard finish their transitional storyarc as things get setup for Jim "The Shooter" Shooter to retake the reins next month. And considering the "fill-in-y" nature of the story, they do an admirable job shifting from the "Supergirl and..." bit back to the regular Legion, wrapping up the three-pronged story admirably and enjoyably. While I would have very much liked to have seen these two really have a shot at creating adventures for the Legion long-term, they did very well in the short term, and nothing will change that.

Freddy vs Jason vs Ash #2 -- The main thrust of the three-way horror crossover begins here, as the story shifts into gear and starts to pick up some steam (if you'll excuse my triple-mixed-metaphor). As Ash rants to anyone who will listen (and a lot of people who won't) about the Deadites and the Necronomicon, a certain Mr. Voorhees is on a quest to find the Book of the Dead as well. And woe to anyone stupid (and nubile) enough to get in his way! There's gore galore and not one, but two couples attacked mid-coitus, and while in any other setting that would be questionable, it's the exact level of gratuitousness needed here. In a series featuring the main characters from three different horror franchises, calling something over the top is superfluous. Jason Craig's art shines in this issue since he gets to draw more blood and dismemberment, which seems to be his forte (not a bad thing). And Kuhoric's dialogue rings true for established characters -- Freddy's snake oil salesman routine is nice, as is Ash's never-ending self narration and aggrandizment. Fans of these franchises will want to buy this, but non-gorehounds will be turned off to it.

Superman Annual #13 -- "Camelot Falls: The Finale!" Yeesh, it's about time. No matter how enthused I have been over the actual fill-ins, the fact that there have been so many fill-ins has caused the main thesis to become so elongated and stretched out that some elements of it need some serious refreshing. (The fact that since the last installment of "Camelot Falls," we have also had the complete "Third Kryptonian" story doesn't help matters either.) Anyway, after some future-time pep talking with the Phantom Stranger, we return to the present where Superman brings the fight to Arion's undersea doorstep. Can the Man of Steel overcome the Atlantean sorcerer's magicks? And more importantly, can he prove that his deeds are not bringing about the doom of the entire human race? Busiek and Pacheco do their level best here, but overall the lead story is somewhat underwhelming -- as Arion says, it's not a problem you can solve with punching. The climax is nicely handled, but it's that old-style Marvel "resolution without a resolution," which I saw coming but still am not happy with. Readers who haven't been following this story will also be mostly lost, too, unfortunately. I'm happy to read the end, but it would have been more impactful a few months ago, honestly. The backup details a day spent on an unihabited alien paradise by Clark, Lois, Kara, Chris, Jonathon, Martha, and Krypto. It's a sweet story, very quiet; Nicieza and Busiek offer little character moments which are familiar to Superman readers but not unwelcome. Of note is Renato Guedes' portraly of Supergirl -- she has knees! And a stomach! And, most bizarre of all, normal sized breasts for a teenager! I'm completely taken aback by this development. This is also the most interesting I have ever seen this Supergirl written. We also get profile pages of Subjekt-17 (am I the only guy who likes him?) and Khyber, who apparently Busiek has more plans for. Casual Superman readers can safely pass this one, but if you have been following "Camelot Falls" then grab it.

Trails of Shazam! #10 -- With two challenges remaining, Freddy has to come to terms with the fact that his rival Sabina is now nearly on equal footing with him -- and this is a situation which puts a lot of people in a lot of danger. Meanwhile, Sabina, on the hunt for Mercury, runs across someone a little more feline who wants her stopped. Lives up to it's rep of being dark and gritty (moreso than the vast majority of the rest of this series, despite what bloggers who don't read it would have you believe), new artist Mauro Cascioli's work retains Porter's painted look but is decidedly more severe. Winnick's script is pretty good for that is essentially half a book of setup and half a book of a brawl; his new take on one Mr. Tawky Tawny should please fans with it's Narnian aspects, but won't because it was thought up by Winnick. Two issues, two trials, and I'm looking forward to see how it plays out.

The Phantom #20 -- One of the main strengths of the Phantom property is that our hero, Kit Walker, is not the first man to don the purple and black. Being the 21st Phantom, it allows for stories like this, which can take place historically without being an "Elseworlds" or "What If?" style -- they are just memoirs of Walkers past. Taking a breather after the intense "Invisible Children" arc, Kit reads to his children from the Chronicles of the 13th Phantom, and his battle against a trio of Musketeers (but not that trio of Musketeers!) who have stolen a certain priceless treasure, The Heart of Lafitte, to regain the favor of King Louis XVIII. I dig the pacing of this series, as scribe Mike Bullock takes a story which would have been two parts from creators and effectively tells in it one. The pencils are by Zeu, an artist who's work I have never seen before but now want to see more of -- the only work of his I recognize is Infiniteens. He does great fisticuffs, and has a handle on the female form that is beautiful without being the typical ghastly combo of giant boobs, wasp waist, arched spine and permanantly swiveled hips. And, this issue is totally appropriate for All Ages readers, to boot -- I just wish it was easier to find on the rack!

THe Pick of the Pile has got to go Phantom. LOSH made a play at it, but the Ghost Who Walks takes it this time, with a solid mix of action, history, and romance, all told in a done-in-one which the whole family can read and enjoy.

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